Kylie dresses down for her appointment at Buckingham Palace

  • @johnhenrywalsh

Pop music's own pocket Venus, Kylie Minogue, was spinning around with delight when she received the insignia of her OBE at Buckingham Palace yesterday for services to the musicindustry.

The tiny Australian singer, dancer, actress, performer, gay icon and all-formats dreamboat declared herself "totally blown away" by the investiture ceremony in the grand ballroom. "I expected to be a little nervous [and] obviously very excited," she said, "but it was very emotional seeing all these people from different walks of life joining together."

She wore possibly her most demure outfit ever – a white satin dress modestly patterned with stars – and dropped a curtsey before the Prince of Wales, who pinned on her medal and asked about her recovery from cancer. "I'm so happy to be back on tour," she said. "This is my second tour since being ill. My energy levels are now so much better. I think I was quite fragile on the last one but it was something I had to do. Now I'm full of joy and very thankful."

Ms Minogue, 40, has been a favourite here since the late 1980s, when she appeared in Neighbours as a grease-smudged mechanic. From there she went on to rack up a series of chart-topping singles and albums, beginning with "I Should Be So Lucky."

Her fortunes dipped in the 1990s, but, partly through the interventions of louche rock star admirers such as Michael Hutchence and Nick Cave, she reinvented herself as a sultry vaudeville showgirl.

After 2000, she returned to celebrity as a sex symbol, appearing on stage in extravagant concoctions of feathers and abbreviated corsetry. No performer in history ever looked better in gold hotpants. Her finest hour was the song "Can't Get You Out of My Head," with its irresistible bounce, and its video, in which the diva wore an ill-fitting white frock that seemed in constant danger of falling off.

In May 2005, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, underwent chemotherapy and radiotherapy, and wrote a children's book, The Showgirl Princess. To general delight, she returned to the stage, and to touring. Her tenth album, X, came out last November; its reviews were mixed but tickets for her eight 2008 shows sold out in 30 minutes. To date, her 29 top ten singles make her the second most successful woman in the UK singles chart after Madonna.

Gazing at her OBE, she said: "This symbolises my communication with my audience and people around the world and that's incredible." With her at Buckingham Palace were her parents and her pop-princess sister Dannii. She told the press: "I just said to my sister before, 'We're in Buckingham Palace!'" Imagine saying that to us as kids.'"